Tag Archives: Gentec International

Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG review

Walk into any photo equipment store and you’ll find a vast array of tools available to a photographer to make his or her vision a reality. I like to think of photography equipment as falling into one of two categories: core or accessory. Core equipment is essential to making photographs. Accessories just help make the whole process that much easier. If money is tight, and for most of us that’s indeed the case, choose to save on accessories. Do not choose to save on core equipment. You’ll regret it. One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was starting out in photography was from a pro who said to me – buy fast glass at the beginning.

What’s fast glass? Well, lens speed refers to the maximum aperture diameter, or minimum f-number, of a lens. A lens with a small f-number (say f2.8) will have a large maximum aperture. Such a lens, through its design, can allow more light to the focal plane which means the photographer has the option to dial in “faster” shutter speeds. The ability to tap into faster shutter speeds with your equipment means more options when it comes to making your vision for a photograph a reality.

When photographers looking to buy a new lens ask me which one I would suggest, I tend to answer their question with a question of my own. What do you like to shoot? You need to pick the right tool for the job. The beauty of some lenses, however, is they’re good for more than one job. Today I’m going to review just such a lens – the Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro.

Here’s the spec sheet on the Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro

Principal Specifications
Prime Lens
Focal length: 70mm
Image stabilization: No

Lens Construction
Groups: 9
Elements: 10
Number of bladed in diaphragm: 9

Angle of View
35mm format: 34.3
SD format: 20.2

Minimum: f22
Maximum: f2.8

Minimum focusing distance (cm/in): 25.7 / 10.1

Magnification: 1:1

Filter Size: 62mm

Dimensions (mm x mm/ in x in): 76 x 95 / 3.0 x 3.7

Weight (g/oz.): 525 / 18.5

Hood (included): LH620-01

Here’s how Sigma Canada describe the lens:

“This is a large-aperture medium macro lens suitable not only for shooting flowers, insects, and other members of the small world, but also for landscapes and portraits. Mounted on an APS-C size digital SLR camera, it delivers an angle of view equivalent to 105mm. SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass with a high refractive index and the latest optical design are used for sharp images, and a Super Multi-Layer Coating minimizes the occurrence of flare and ghosting. In addition, a floating focus system is used to keep in check fluctuation of aberrations due to the shooting distance, and to deliver high resolution and high image quality at all shooting distances.”

There are a few key points in the Sigma write up which I would like to highlight. The first is they mention that this lens is suitable to macro, portrait and landscape work. I’ve used it for all three and am thrilled with the results. This lens is indeed a triple threat! The second point I would like to highlight is the design of the glass. Terms such as Special Low Dispersion and Super Multi-Layer Coating may seem like engineering gobbledygook to some of us photographers but what it all adds up to is really sharp images. That’s the bottom line. How sharp you ask?

Well here’s a portrait shot I took of a little girl recently…

 © Peter Carroll

and a small section of the same shot at 100%…

© Peter Carroll

Here’s a shot taken with the lens in macro mode…

 © Peter Carroll

and a small section at 100%…

 © Peter Carroll

I used the Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro in this recent portrait session too…

 © Peter Carroll

So what do I like about the Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro lens? I like its sharpness. I like the build quality. The matt black finish wears well and the lens feels robust. I like its bokeh (nobody gives a better definition of bokeh than Joe McNally. He calls bokeh the out of focus junk in the background).

What leaves me a little wanting? It’s not the quietest lens in the world. On a few occasions I did find it tend to search and take a stutter to lock AF. Flipping the focus limiter to “limit” does indeed help as it should but even then it’s not always point and lock. It’s important to keep in mind, however, how this lens will be used.  I would characterise the Sigma 70mm f2.8 EX DG Macro as a very solid lens for the majority of studio and portrait work. You can grab another tool out of your photography toolbox if you plan on photographing Formula 1 cars zipping around a track at 200+ mph.

In summary I would definitely recommend the Sigma 70mm and consider it a solid investment in core photography gear.

Blackrapid Strap Review

This blog entry is the start of a new venture here at Peter Carroll Photography. I have teamed up the good people over at Gentec International to test and review various photography products. Gentec, a proudly Canadian company, offers prominent photo industry brands including Sigma, Sandisk, Optex, Garry Fong, Roots and Tamrac. Gentec’s approach to business has earned it the Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies award for 4 years straight – 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. It is my pleasure to team up with Canada’s largest consumer accessories supplier and to provide you with my thoughts on some photo gear. I would like to make it clear right from the start of this venture that the opinions expressed in my reviews are my own. Everyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I call ‘em like I see ‘em.

The first product I am reviewing is the Blackrapid RS-5 sling camera strap.


Blackrapid RS-5

Well folks, say good-bye to your old style camera strap which dug into the back of your neck, gave you strap burn and back pain and say hello to the R-Strap.   If you want to be creative with your camera, you’ve got to be comfortable. Having the weight of a modern DSLRs body and lens combo hanging from an old style strap can be a serious pain in the neck. The R-Strap, by Blackrapid, is worn diagonally across the torso from shoulder to hip. It’s comfortable and best of all it allows you to bring the camera up to eye level easily and quickly. It works with you in getting that shot and that honestly should be your criteria for purchasing any bit of photo gear.

How does the R-Strap work? Well the point of contact between your camera and your R-Strap is the FastenR3. The FastenR3 connects the strap to the tripod socket located on either the camera body or the lens. Once connected, the camera hangs upside down, resting securely at your side or in the small of your back, with the lens pointing behind you. When you want to use the camera, as Blackrapid like to say, it’s a case of Grab, Glide and Click. The buckle slides easily along the strap so the camera moves, the strap doesn’t.

Here’s a video demonstration the folks over at Blackrapid put together.

Blackrapid offer a line of R-Straps. The basic design is common to all but some have more storage capacity for such things as cell phones, memory cards, money etc. Blackrapid have also taken into account that men and women are shaped differently so one design does not in fact fit all. They offer the RS-W1 which is the world’s first camera strap that focuses on the perfect fit for the female photographer.

In my opinion:

The Pros

- Blackrapid straps allow me to focus on making images

- They are well made from quality materials (ballistic nylon – which I hear is top of the line in the world of nylon!)

- They are designed with both function and style in mind

- There are different levels of storage capacity in the Blackrapid R-Strap line. Some of us want pockets for carrying this, that and the other. Others of us just want a bare bones strap with the option of adding mods when needed.

- I really like the magnetic snap close feature of the storage pockets in the RS-5

The Cons

- If you have the need to put your camera down on a flat surface you have to put it on its side because the FasternerR3 is screwed into the tripod socket.

Honestly, that’s all I can come up with for cons. There is one other small issue but I don’t even really consider it a con. I have a Kirk L bracket always attached to my camera and I have to uncrew the FasternerR3 so I can mount the camera on the tripod during my landscape work.  No tool can be all things. Although, my friend’s dad might take issue with that way of thinking. While working on a project with his son he once said,”Pass me a screwdriver.” To which the son replied, “Which type?” The dad answered,” It doesn’t matter.  I’m gonna use it as a hammer!” Ya gotta love it!

Honestly, if you are looking for a quality camera strap that allows you to focus on making images and won’t give you a pain in the neck, then look no further than Blackrapid. Now if only finding the perfect camera bag was so easy!